1. The Lady Nugent January--May 1850
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The Lady Nugent
January 7th, 1850.
Latitude 7° 9'. Thermometer 78°.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
We are now getting near the latitude for meeting the homeward bound ships, so we are getting letters ready. I do hope we shall meet one, but, of course, it is only a chance; however, I wish a good deal that we had an equal one of hearing from home. I wonder so much how you are all getting on, what you did at Christmas, etc. What we did was to sight Madeira; all the afternoon it was visible, though a long way off; but we were getting on very fast then, and in the morning there was nothing to be seen. I believe so far we have hardly made an average passage, we had such a very bad start. We left Antonie, 1 as you know, after luncheon on Wednesday, December 12th, and got on board just before dark, and remained that night in Plymouth Sound. We sailed the next morning at about 11, and in six hours the wind came dead against us, and on the next Tuesday morning we were still not thirty miles from Plymouth, and the wretchedness of those days is not a thing to be lightly spoken of. Arthur, Powles 2 and I were all terrasses at once, and I think I was the least ill of the three, for though Arthur was not so bad at the time and slept a
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good deal, he has not recovered the effects of it still, and looks so thin and wretched, though he is certainly better this last week. But he feels the motion as much as I do, and that is whenever it is the least rough.
My husband was very sick for two days, but his throat got perfectly well from the moment he came on board for a fortnight; now it is rather troublesome again, for we have had some hot, heavy weather, and he is not the better for it. 3 Our stern cabin is a great comfort in this weather, as it is always airy; at first it was like sitting with the window open and no fire, and that is pretty cold at sea in December, but it will be a great thing for us now.
Please tell Aunt Jane how very acceptable the cloak was, although I cannot think of it with any coolness to-day, within eight degrees of the Line. We have had some lovely sunrises and the stars are very beautiful, but I am sorry to say we have lost the Great Bear now, which seems quite a part of home. No sharks yet, but the lines are out for them to-day. Arthur had a flying fish for his dinner on Saturday, to his great delight. It flew on to the deck, poor little thing, and the Captain made him a present of it. We have had quantities flying about for the last three days and they are beautiful little creatures, but quite small, only about eight inches long. We have seen a few of Mother Carey's chickens, too, and some shoals of porpoises. But the prettiest thing is to sit on the deck at night quite at the stern and watch the track of the vessel; last night it was like three wreaths of pale green smoke (one from each side and one from the rudder) studded with showers of bright stars. The Captain says there will be more of it, too,
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soon. We like him very much; he is extremely civil to us and almost too good-natured to everyone in the ship.
We are also very lucky in our fellow passengers. There is only one lady, Miss Borton, quite young and rather pretty, though neither aristocratic nor very bright; but then, poor thing, she too has had a headache almost ever since she came on board. Then we have Mr. Tollemache, who sits next me in the cuddy at dinner, and who is going out to see his property in New Zealand, £15,000 worth; and he has in his suite three maids and a family whom he is helping to emigrate, whose name is Bradley, with five very naughty, dirty children, so that when Arthur cries it is the fear of being like Master B. that stops him quickly. Then we have Mr. Bulkeley, cousin to Sir Richard, going out to New Zealand to join his regiment, the 65th; Mr. Nicholson, who has just left Oxford--his father is some rich man near Leeds--and he is our chaplain; Mr. Robison, who though only about twenty-four, has been a merchant at Calcutta, and tells us Indian stories and experiences of former voyages; and a smart young Mr. Lee, one of many brothers, going out as a settler; Mr. Wakefield, only son, who is 'aide de camp' to my husband; and a Mr. Elliot, who knows all about everything but is careless about his h's and is taking out a steam engine. The Doctor is unsuccessful, as he gets very tipsy; and that is all, except the first mate, who is also chief cabin, a perfect likeness of Keeley and a very good seaman. There is a Durham cow on board going out to improve the New Zealand breed, so we get a little good milk morning and evening, but we are very glad of all our stores, beef tea, oranges, etc., not forgetting the eggs, which turned out very well and have been most useful.
We have quite determined, if possible, to stop at Port Cooper 4 instead of going on to Wellington and having to come back in three months, perhaps a fortnight's voyage in a wretched little coaster, and we hope to find things a little prepared if the October ship, by which notice of our journey
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was sent, has made a good passage. We are quite agreed that in spite of phosphoric light, etc., and flying fish, any place on land will appear charming and luxurious. I can hardly conceive that you can all have a large tub full of water morning and evening if you like it. Salt water is very inferior when you get it alone.
We are now in a pretty fair breeze but afraid every moment of its dropping; this is just the place for calms. Five degrees further down and the worst will be passed; in latitude 2, the breezes sometimes begin again. To-day we have opened a lottery for the time that we are to cross the line. The thermometer is to-day 78, in our cabin, and it is not so hot as Paris, but then of course the breeze keeps us cool so far. We are not to consider it hot till the seams on the deck begin to melt. We wake every morning before six with the pump for washing the decks and then the gentlemen all go up on deck to have buckets of water thrown over them; then the breakfast at eight-thirty, but I have mine in the cabin; dinner is at three and tea at six, and I have that too in the cabin, and we go to bed pretty early, as between sea air and lying awake when it is rough (which Arthur does not) we get pretty sleepy. The worst weather we have had was on the Sunday night after we sailed, which even the Captain said was a perfect hurricane and seemed very frightful to me; our foretop sail was so torn that the sailors have been mending it every calm day since. I cannot bear to think how long it really must be before we get any letters and I wonder so what you are doing and how Sara is getting on and whether you all went to Stokesley; perhaps you are there now.
We had an arrival on board of a little lady passenger this morning, all very successful and the Doctor very sober. Sara must manage to let us hear by the February ship. If you get this in time would you if you please send us out the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews for December and January and we should be very glad to have them always sent to us as they come out. Also by the first ship
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that it is convenient will you send me eight yards of black silk, galon they call it in Paris, something between braid and ribbon, it is half an inch wide at least; and a piece of the narrow black silk braid such as you use for braiding with. I should be very glad too of some new books for Arthur, those he has are in such constant use here as he cannot play about when it is rough; and two new dissecting puzzles, as they call them, would be very valuable. We have got three on board, The Queen's visit to Ireland, Robinson Crusoe, and the life of a Ship, each of which he sets up about three times a day, and he can do them quite alone, unless the ship is rolling very much.
I hope everyone will be merciful and write very much to us. We find that we cannot (as we meant to do) write a bit every day, it is only on very smooth ones that our heads can stand it; I thought for a long time that I never should be able to do it at all. William, 5 I must say, has been quite a treasure to us, always well and willing; he is our housemaid, and Arthur's cook, and seems very happy, especially as nearly half the emigrants are Scotch. There is one little German with a Bath pianoforte (or Organ?) which plays on festivals, and the rest of our music is composed of a mild flute and two still much milder violins.
January 9th. The breeze is over. We were woke before four on the morning after I wrote last by a thunderstorm and a squall, and then the wind went all round the compass and disappeared. The lightning was very vivid and such rain, but the rudder and its chains rattled so at our heads we could hardly hear the thunder, and then we had a day's rolling in heavy swell and no wind, which brought us headaches, and a little shark. I have seen dogfish quite as large, so that I was not much excited, but this morning we had a big one on our hook several times, but not caught, and two smaller ones, not four feet long, caught.
This is a beautiful, hot day, but still a little breeze, thermometer about 81, by the aneroid Tom gave my husband, Latitude 5° 13' at noon, and it has been really
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beautiful, all the day, to see the sharks playing about, with the pilot fishes all around them, down in the deep blue water under our stern windows. Arthur in delight, as you may suppose, and we each tasted a bit of one broiled, and very nasty we thought it. Mr. Tollemache took up one head after it had been off ten minutes and tried to frighten one of the children with it, but instead he got a good bite on his own thumb to the great amusement of the spectators, as he is the mildest and most benevolent of men, though rather eccentric. He never ventured on to the poop deck till two or three days ago as he thought he might go overboard, though it is fenced nearly all round with hen coops. He has shaved his head and lives quite with his three maids and the emigrants. We have five vessels in sight to-day, but all their heads go the same way as our own.
January 11th. We are still going on much as usual, only little puffs and squalls which are by degrees pushing us down. Yesterday the Persia came so near that the Captain and some more came on board. They are going to Ceylon, touching at the Cape, and so my husband sent a letter to his father enclosed, open, to Tom. She is just our size. While I am writing the Maid of the Mill is passing at a great rate, bound to Buenos Ayres, which is very tantalizing as there is just enough wind to make it impossible to put down a boat, or it would have been a very good chance for us.
January 12th. We have come up again with the Maid, and now in a calm, so my letter had better go, and I shall begin another, in case of meeting still with one homeward bound. Arthur is much better, and hopping about in only a shirt and white pinafore. It is piping hot, and now Goodbye. Yours ever, with much love to everyone. Aunt Anne would be quite amused if she knew how often Arthur has asked to go to her and Mrs. Frost. I shall direct to Sara as I am not sure where you will be. How I wish I could change places with, or get into my letter.
Lady Nugent. Latitude N. about 2° 50'.
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February 10th, 1850. Lady Nugent
Longitude, East 50°. Latitude 40°
MY DEAR MOTHER,
I hope you have already got the letter which I sent by the Maid of the Mill to Buenos Ayres before we crossed the Line; we have since not had one opportunity, but I write now, that we may not lose a chance if we should come up with an Indian vessel, as we are still about on their route. The February ship for N.Z. has I hope started, with a large packet of letters, and lots of news for us. If you could only know how we are longing to hear even the smallest particulars from home; but there is nothing for it but patience and hope. We have got a great deal more reconciled to our journey since I wrote last. In the first place a great alteration for the better in the child, who has at last got quite fat and rosy again, and quite a little sailor; half his time is spent in pulling ropes, and raising and lowering his 'mizen royal' (a towel on a string) as he perceives the 'squalls' coming on or subsiding. The throat too is not so bad as on shore, though we have been somewhat disappointed at its having never got nearly so well again as it was in the first fortnight. I am nearly a good sailor myself now.
We are supposed to have made a very good passage since I wrote before, and were not once actually becalmed near the line, only for some time on each side of it very slow sailing, and a great deal of society. Twenty-six ships all in sight together from the mast one morning. We spoke to a good many, had two visits ourselves, and one afternoon some of the young gentlemen went off in a boat, and drank tea in one ship, and called on another, and got back soon after dark.
We had our Neptune day on the 17th of January with the usual forms. We crossed the line about eight o'clock on the evening of the 16th, and at that moment he, Neptune, hailed the chief mate from the bowsprit, and inquired whether there were any of his children on board, and on being invited to reappear, the next moment he took his
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leave in a fire boat which we could see for miles afterwards in the clear dark night. The next day we had Neptune, his wife, and child, paraded round the ship in triumph, followed by the bear, barber, and constables; and then five victims, all the ship, men and boys who had not before crossed the line, were tarred and shaved and washed most inhumanly. However it was so hot that we could not pity them much for the watery part of it.
I don't think the heat was ever so great as we had expected it to be, never I think above the eighty-four in the cabin, and we were most fortunate in never being becalmed in the hottest part, and the breeze kept us all right. We had just two cloudy damp days when everything in the ship was wet and sticky, and which were very oppressive, but now again our only fear is of cold. The Captain promised us some dusty weather, i.e. rain and wind, and we had it for some days off the Cape, and it was very cold and very rough for a day or two; such tremendous waves, as they seemed to me, and we sprang our fore top-mast, and lost some ropes, and a sail or two much torn. Last Saturday, 16th, it got fine again, and Sunday was lovely and quite hot and calm, and it is still fine but plenty of breeze.
The course to-day at twelve was the longest we have yet made, 240 miles in the twenty-four hours, and it all looks like being in New Zealand before Easter. We have seen no land since Plymouth, except sighting Madeira. The Captain had promised to heave to off Tristan d'Acunha, and send off a boat for potatoes and pigs, if it came well in the course; unluckily, however, the wind changed when we came pretty near it, and we had to leave it to the south, and do without our fresh stores, and the reviving sight of the land. There is no landing there except in wonderfully fine weather, but though we could not have been allowed to land, it would have been a great thing to see the island from a distance as there is a mountain some thousand feet high only one-third lower than Teneriffe, which goes straight down to the sea. It was very tantalizing to pass so
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near the Cape and neither see it nor hear any news, and now we must make up our minds to nothing but sea, sea, and always sea, till at all events Van Diemen's land, which we may perhaps sight.
We are really very fortunate in our fellow travellers; they are all good humoured and all tolerably amusing. Only Mr. Tollemache has been much excited not to say angry lately by the sailors' treatment of his dog Jack. It is a large white ugly nondescript cur, but he is very fond of it, and made so much fuss with it as to invite some little fun. First Jack appeared with a frightful wound (painted) on one leg; this however, was washed off, after frightening his master very much; then, somehow or other, every evening Jack used to reappear at our end of the ship with a kettle tied to his tail, to Mr. Tollemache's great terror, as he thought he would pull his tail quite off in his endeavours to get free; and at last one night, after much watching and even offering rewards for the conviction of the offender, Mr. Tollemache was lucky enough, from the poop, to decry Jack in the forecastle and the sailors all busy around him. His tall, gaunt figure was instantly precipitated down the ladder, and in three strides he was in the forecastle and violently punching one of the ringleaders. It appears that, seeing how much the kettle was admired, they had made a little dress, which was being put on with the greatest care when they were so rudely interrupted, and now Jack is kept under lock and key, and his master never lets him go out of his sight. The assaulted sailor was luckily one of the best behaved and best in every way in the ship, or I think the said master would rather have got the worse of it. When he took the law into his own hands, they threatened to throw Jack overboard.
March 4th. S. Latitude 42° 29', E. Longitude 91° 40'. I must write a little bit to-day, though we are rolling about very uncomfortably, to wish at least on paper a great many happy returns of the day to both the twins. 6 Oh,
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how I wonder what you are all about, and where you all are! However, wherever it is spent, I can fancy the day pretty well, and I think of you most often as in London. How ungrateful it now seems to my penitent self ever to have thought those charming streets dirty, foggy, or smoky, or the trees in Portman Square not worth looking at; now it is eighty-three days since I have seen anything larger in the shape of a tree than the plants under glass on deck, which two gardeners on board are taking out; and two belonging to Mr. Wakefield from Sir W. Molesworth's garden.
We were very gay with theatricals one day last week. They rigged a beautiful stage on the poop, with all the flags as decorations, an awning overhead, and all round the quarter deck to the main mast, and there we all sat in a sort of pit. 'The Mock Doctor' was the first piece and then we had 'Bombastes'. It was really a very creditable performance; Mr. Wakefield, who is half a foreigner, is a capital actor and the others all did very well. We suspect him (Mr. W.) of designs upon Miss Borton, the other lady; there is certainly a strong flirtation, in spite of a rumour that she is engaged to someone at home. Mr. Robison, who is a fair and gentle man, and the Captain's son, sixteen and small, took the ladies' parts.
We have so far only seen a whale once, just spouting a good way off, but sending up a very handsome column of water, or rather steam to all appearance. There was seen the other day, though not by me, a sword fish flying quite out of the water in pursuit of a whale, and very near the ship, but they would not stay to be looked at, and only a few saw it at all. We have not so far been very fortunate in sights, or creatures of the deep coming to look at us. We caught no large sharks; one we hooked about eight feet, but we did not even catch him, and we have not had one dolphin or boneta. The porpoises we have seen plenty of, in most joyful looking shoals, but again then none caught. However we have plenty of albatrosses and so we need not complain; they are such beautiful creatures, and there have been six caught by dragging after us, on calm
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days, a line baited with pork. They are not quite the shape that I expected, as I had fancied them, I hardly know why, like large herons; but they are just like an enormous seagull, and you are not at all aware of their size until they are caught. Our largest measured only twelve feet from tip to tip of the wings, but they are often fifteen and sixteen. Mr. Elliot made me a present of one he had caught, and I have got the skin drying, in hopes of bringing the feathers safe home. You can have no idea of their beauty, floating steadily over these rough seas, and hardly ever stirring their long wings except now and then the tip of one, to put themselves in a new tack. I used to fancy that a calm at sea must mean a quiet state of things, but down here where there is always a swell it gives you more motion than you get with a good breeze. For instance after our play the other night, for which we had a beautiful evening, it felt calm, and after going to bed very late (for us) we got so rolled about that sleep was really out of the question.
March6th.To-day we have a very strong breeze, and I should call it very rough but we go much steadier. Our great excitement of the day is always at noon, when the Captain, if possible, takes an observation of the Sun, and then marks down our place on the chart.
March 9th. We are to-day within 500 miles of South Australia which seems very near. I think Arthur's games would amuse you now, they are so completely tinctured with sea; one is with Powles to take an observation of the Sun, when he stands with an imaginary sextant in his hands, and one eye shut, and calls out '48, 45' etc... as the case may be just as he hears the Captain and chief mate do. He has got a great cold which is the first we have any of us had but it is rather general through the ship. He has got a little companion on board a little girl ten years old (yesterday) who is a great resource, a little Kate MacRae, whose father is quite the best man in every sense among the emigrants. One of those Scotchmen who twenty years ago took farms in Ireland and now find the times too hard and the rents (if paid) too high to stay there.
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His wife is an Englishwoman and has been in service with Lady Ponsonby, and this little Kate and her two brothers are uncommonly nice children. They take out two Irish girls as servants, and one man, so that they are very great people down below, and Mr. MacRae is quite an oracle there. He is just a Pattison at his best day, only dark instead of fair, and always full of talk and joking. They are going to Nelson and are just what all emigrants ought to be if they could. Their landlord's gardener is one of their party with his wife, only just married; a very nice Atherstone girl, protegee of Mrs. Bracebridge, and who knows all the Warwickshire houses, and she was ladies' maid to the aforesaid landlord.
These form, with one or two more, the aristocracy of the forecabin, and there are a few very respectable Scotch people in the steerage, and I think only one English family on board, Cundy's from Herne Bay (does Frances know them?) with eight children, the last born on board and the eldest girl one of the prettiest children I ever saw, or at least she looks so here, for we are an ugly set; 162 in all, 36 being the crew.
About a month ago we began some 'meetings' three times a week on 'agricultural and scientific subjects'. My husband, of course, in the chair, and as no one has been in New Zealand before, except Mr. Wakefield (who is no farmer) and one of the sailors, and they only in the north, the agricultural part soon languished, as no one knows what soil he will meet with there, or indeed any of the particulars of his future state; and the subject seemed dying a natural death, as soon as we had had papers read on the best kinds of draining and house building with probable materials, and others on gardens and times of sowing, etc. So some one proposed that political subjects (in the good sense) should be introduced and it being joyfully acceded to, Mr. Elliot wrote and read a paper on the subject, and then my husband wrote (and Mr. Wakefield read) another, I need hardly say most carefully loyal; Mr. Nicholson then wrote and read a long opposition one, and then, to our universal surprise, came and moved that Politics
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were an unfit subject for discussion, in which he was warmly seconded by Mr. Bulkeley. Now Mr. Bulkeley is, you know, our soldier, going out to join his (the 65th) Regiment. Son of Sir Somebody B. who lives in Bucks and has large property in N.Z. He is quite young, and very good looking, and though he has all kinds of smart things with him, he thinks it the thing to be rough on board ship, and dirty. Dirty white trousers turned up nearly to the top of his dirty socks, and high-belows that have never seen the blacking brush since Plymouth; no waistcoat and over all a thick P. jacket, quite short, is his prevailing dress, and he lives a good deal amongst the emigrants. Then he is very sharp, but not intellectual, and never says a flat thing, and is a little like Denis with invincible good humour. But I don't know why I describe him so au long, for I see less of him than any one in the ship. Mr. Nicholson is an Oxford man, coming out here only for a freak of seeing the world, and hopes to go back by India and China, and has a very rich Father living near Leeds, knows about Mr. George Cator, and Redcar and Kirkleatham and so on, smokes even more than Mr. Bulkeley, but is very fond of talking intellectually, and is six feet two inches. These are our opposition, and bribery (with grog) and every means was tried by them to carry their measure; but after prodigious excitement it was at last decided last night two to one, that they should discuss politics whenever, and not oftener than, they chose.
March 23rd. IN SIGHT OF NEW ZEALAND! but we have now had a real storm and I should be very glad indeed to think that I should never see another. It began on Sunday the 17th, and in the afternoon we had our dead lights put in for the first time and we are still in darkness. Monday was rough, but nothing wonderful, and the two next days the same; on Thursday the wind blew very hard, and, high as we are out of the water, we were inundated even in the cuddy, great waves splashing quite over the side of the ship; and the land being due next day (Friday) the Captain got rather anxious. We had a quiet night, and some sleep, and then
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another sudden fall of the barometer promised another gale of wind which accordingly began after breakfast, and very beautiful the sea was when I went up about noon, to see it. The spray was blown from the top of each wave till the whole sea looked like a snow storm, white with foam. We must then have been within 100 miles of land, but it was very thick; and as we had not seen land, to prove the chronometers, for three months, it was enough to put the Captain rather in a fidget; especially as the gale increased, and the barometer was falling rapidly. There is a reef called the 'Snares' about forty miles south of Stewart Island, and our course ran between the two. We would have hove to, but did not dare, there was such a heavy sea on, for fear of the decks being swept, as she came round; so there was nothing for it but to go on running, which we accordingly did. All day long the wind increased, and at five in the evening the barometer had fallen one and two-tenth inches (to 29.03") in thirty-six hours. Suddenly then, the wind came round to the southward, and blew a regular hurricane; the chief mate told us afterwards he never knew it blow harder in all his experience; and the worst of it was that it blew dead on shore, and that the land according to our calculations could not be above fifteen or twenty miles to leeward. So you may imagine that we had to carry on, and take our chances of the ropes and canvas standing, instead of taking in all the sails and letting her drift, as we should have done if we had plenty of sea room. We carried a close-reefed foresail and maintopsail all night, expecting them to go every minute, but they held on, and consequently so did the ship, and we made little or no leeway. About twelve, the wind moderated again to a whole gale; the glass began to rise as soon as the hurricane came on, and though there were some tremendous squalls until four-thirty, we felt the worst of the danger was over. At daylight the Captain, calculating that he had well weathered the Cape, hauled up to the northward; there was a rumour of land at six-thirty, but it died away again, and at eight o'clock the mist cleared off a little, and there was land sure
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enough on the larboard bow. A most welcome sound, as you may suppose, for poor creatures on an unknown coast, in heavy weather, after being obliged for two days to take the observations by guess work, and without much faith in the accuracy of the chronometers which indeed proved wrong by about thirty-three miles, which was enough to make a very serious difference.
To complete the sadness of the whole scene the evening before we had the death of the poor steward. He was an oldish man of colour, and very trustworthy and useful in the ship, though not pleasant to the passengers, and we were none of us very fond of him. On the Thursday before dinner he fell down, and went to bed, as we all thought, tipsy; early next morning they tried very much to wake him, and at last sent for the doctor, when it turned out he was in an apoplectic fit, and his assistance came too late. All day long and through the storm he was lying in his berth at one end of the cuddy perfectly unconscious, and at night he died. With him lying groaning in sight of us all, and the raging of the storm, and the ship pitching and rolling, and shaking all over, I never shall forget the horrors of that evening. I did not undress, but sat up nearly all night trying to read. My husband slept but badly even in his cot, which he has found a perfect receipt for sleeping well through all other rough nights. Arthur never woke. The next morning however was very cheering; the gale sunk to a breeze, and though still a high sea, and bitterly cold wind, we had sunshine and land well in sight, and then we buried the poor steward.
I do not know whether it was the effect of New Zealand air, or the unlovable properties of poor Ia (the Steward) but we certainly none of us felt the sadness which I expected must follow a funeral at sea. And the afternoon was intensely exciting, with a fair wind all day; we ran up the coast at a great pace, and such a lovely mountain range as the sea view I never saw. It made me think of Wales, of course, at every yard, and there were several Roseberry Toppins. Nothing though quite so fine as Snowdon, except one snowcapped hill which we did not reach that day. We
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came up within two miles of the shore with a sunset of golden haze over the new land and if we had had two hours more of daylight might have anchored that night. However that was not to be, and the Captain was obliged to be cautious, as we had no one in the ship who had ever been on the coast before. In the night we lay to, and then drifted too far to the northward; the breeze freshened, and kept us beating about all Sunday the 23rd, and on Monday we had another gale, almost if not quite as bad as the Friday before, only then we knew where we were. Tuesday, we were all up early and in great spirits, with a fair wind blowing straight into the harbour, and at noon in we came, at a great pace. The entrance is very narrow as there are sand banks, covered at high water, which run nearly across the Bay. But it is so beautiful. It is eight miles from the point up to Port Chalmers, which is a little bay in the harbour, and there Lady Nugent is now lying, in a perfect nest of beauty, and as snug as a ship can be. You must imagine wooded cliffs one over another like the scenery near Gwydir, only cliffs and wood all round, and instead of Llanrwst, to look down on the sea quite smooth.
We were hungry enough to stay on board till we got some dinner, and then such a walk on shore! At Port Chalmers there are about a dozen little wooden houses, and after walking a little way through the wood above the port, we came upon such a salt water Lake! As clear as crystal, with the same sort of wooded cliffs all round, and pieces of rock standing down into the water like old towers, the colouring of which would drive you quite distracted; every shade of bright yellow and brown, and the foliage is very beautiful and so foreign, there is not one tree the same as any we have at home. The fern tree is very like the palm, with its bunch of leaves on the top, each about seven feet long, and there is a beautiful tall pine here and there, with a bare stem and tufts on the top, but very different in leaf from anything I have ever seen. There is every sort of wild bird's note, too, still to be heard in the woods. I believe even the parrots sing instead of screaming, and somebody shot two
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most beautiful little love birds. I cannot describe one-half of what we saw or felt at being once again on land; any place would have looked beautiful to us just then, but it really is lovely, and would be still more so if we could still get a peep at any of the high hills which we saw from the sea; but that would require an expedition through the bush (as the uncleared parts are generally denominated here) to the tops of those now in sight, which we have not yet accomplished.
The harbour of Otago is eighteen miles long from the flag staff at the entrance to the town of Dunedin (as you know, the old name for Edinburgh) which is the nucleus of the settlement. Port Chalmers lies about half-way up, and there wooded islands seem to shut the entrance any higher, and at present ships do not come beyond it; but with a pilot they may come up several miles further. The Captain, with his papers, rowed off to the town as soon as we had anchored, and returned in the evening with Captain Cargill, the New Zealand Company's agent here, who came 'to pay his respects' and to press us most kindly to come up and stay with him at the town until the ship is ready to sail again; which we were very glad to do, as it is a most disagreeable time to spend on board, and almost all the people about constantly drunk, in a little place like that, where our arrival is quite an event. We find the ship that sailed about a fortnight before us has not yet been heard of, so that Captain Thomas at Port Cooper knows nothing of our coming out. But we hear there is a great deal more going on there, in road-making, etc., than we had yet heard of in England. However I believe it is settled that we now go on straight to Wellington for about two months.
I must tell you though that I am writing from Dunedin now on Easter Eve! We came up on Wednesday, in a little open boat, wind and mist dead against us, a most uncomfortable sail of nearly five hours, and are now located very comfortably in a weatherboard house, the front half of which came out as it is from England. It consists of six
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rooms, three bedrooms, a pantry, kitchen, and sitting room, in which I am now writing, and it is a very comfortable abode for anywhere. It is weatherboard all round, but coated with single brick at the windy end, and rough cast, and the inside is lined, or as we should say panelled, only roughly done, but with a pretty coloured wood, something like very dark box, which takes a very good polish, if anyone had time to rub it at all. Quite an old fashioned fireplace with dogs for burning wood (but there is coal eight miles off when they have time to fetch it); a grand pianoforte, a brass inlaid clock, red twill curtains, and at least a dozen pictures in large gilt frames! Captain and Mrs. Cargill landed here with the first settlers, just two years ago, and lived at first under canvas on the beach, under heavy rain, for three weeks, with two sons and three daughters; and very rough work it must have been, but he is an old soldier and used to such things. He belonged to the 74th (Denis' regiment) which he joined in India in 1803, just before Assaye, and he was then all through the Peninsular with them and badly wounded at Busaco. Mrs. Cargill was left at Lisbon through it all; she has been as she says 'in the army' all her life, and a very pretty woman, very good-natured, and just what I fancy the general style of army lady!
It seems so curious to me to come across such a different set of people from those I have been used to. Captain Cargill is a funny looking little old man with a very large head covered with thick upright white hair, that has been red, which also forms a white frill under his chin. He is Presbyterian, and Free Kirk, and talks broad Scotch, and he is exactly like some of the old Covenanter fathers of families in Walter Scott's novels; most sensibly he talks too, and tells a story very well, and has lived much with Blackwood's (Magazine), Hamilton, who wrote Men and Manners, Cyril Thornton, etc., and other literature of that stamp. The eldest daughter married last month, and the second is very like Jane Lloyd. I should think them a very nice family, but it seems strange to be with people who do not
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even know when Easter Sunday is; though Mrs. Cargill calls herself Episcopalian, all the others are Free Kirk.
The situation of the town is of course very fine, at the head of the harbour, which opens out wider; but it looks rather bare and new, the clearings leave stumps and bare burnt branches, but it will look very different when good grass, etc., has time to grow, and the walks all about are most beautiful. There are perhaps 120 houses in the town, mostly of weatherboard; a little kirk, two butchers, three bakers, and other shops in proportion. I must say it is most wonderful to see the progress made in two years, and the place looks about as grand as Ysputty, only the houses are all new and made of wood and rather further apart; and out of them come such smart ladies and gentlemen, what with lawyers, and doctors, and surveyors, and go-to-meeting clothes on other classes--there are heaps of them.
Indeed the black spot in Dunedin to me is the state of society there. There is a Scotch and an English party, and half of them will not visit the other half, or approve of anything that is done. I believe it is so more or less in all small communities, and here Scotch and English of course makes a capital ground of offence. The whole place is at sixes and sevens, and I am a good deal alarmed at the idea of what may be my own fate at Port Cooper, being mixed up in anything like the same state of things; but I hope it may be possible to keep out of it.
There are already a great number of people settled outside the town up every little valley and along the beach too, and all well off. Every thing is dear, wages 4s. a day, bread 9d. the 4lb loaf, meat the same as in London, and very good, milk ditto, fresh butter 1s. a pound, and such washing bills!--about 3s. a dozen for everything, we pay, for a few things which we brought up to have washed. The poorest people have fresh meat at least once a day, but still there are plenty of grumblers.
The cows here would rather astonish our farmers. They run all day in the bush and attend to their calves, and at night, if possible, they are caught, shut up, and milked
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in the morning. But very often it is not possible, and it is funny enough to see a man, as I did, in one of our walks, at the top of a tree with a telescope, looking for his cows, to be milked.
Altogether it is much what I expected to find, except that I thought, in a colony, people would have been more friendly and fond of each other and less upon form. There is as much etiquette about visiting, and so on, at Dunedin as I ever saw anywhere at home, and the shopkeepers, etc., all dress most expensively. My husband is much distressed in the political economy point of view at finding the company providing work as charity while wages are 4s. a day, which is of course an absurdity, but I will spare you all that question.
April 8th. We left Dunedin of the 4th, and came back to Lady Nugent with the Captain, in his gig, and sailed down under an impromptu piece of canvas in an hour and twenty minutes, with a perfect gale in our favour. We saw several natives, but all dressed in coat and trowsers, or else the universal blue shirt, and belt round the waist. The women too had gowns, etc., and only a mat on the top of all; they are not at all bad looking, although this is considered a very degenerate tribe compared to those in the Northern Island; there are only about 160 in the settlement, and the chief is a wretched creature, generally quite drunk. The native village is down near the mouth of the harbour, and only the gentlemen were able to go and see it, but old Tairoa the chief heard very soon, long before their visit, that my husband, the 'Captain at Port Cooper' as he called him, was at the town; so up he came to call upon him, in his state dress, white trowsers, black swallow-tailed coat, striped black silk waistcoat and neckcloth, and white shirt and gloves and a stick. They say he has often eaten people but that was long ago. He made his purpose very plain when he got at my husband, 'I come tee you', and shook hands with us all round. Some of the natives are very well behaved, and work very well when they are looked after, but they get only 3s. a day.
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The day after we got back from the ship we devoted to paying a visit to the section which Mr. Robison has bought--he was one of our fellow passengers who is going to stay here--and a most dirty walk it was, though quite beautiful; it was along the path, for I cannot call it road, from Port Chalmers to Dunedin, which is about as good as Jack Parry's path, with mud instead of stones, and overgrown with brambles. It runs through the bush, and most remorselessly up and down hill. It was literally over our ankles in dirt, very slippery, and full of stumps left in, and very unfavourable for progression. However, by dint of scrambling, pulling, and sliding, we did at last manage about a mile and half, and there came suddenly upon a little clearing as it is called, which, with the house upon it, is a perfect paradise. It belongs to two Mr. Carters, brothers (who are to be Mr. Robison's next neighbours), and quite young, with delicate health, who have come out here to enjoy themselves on a small income. The house is built of fern trees split, which last very long here, and look something like rough bits of Scotch fir with the bark on, only much better, and are then plastered inside and papered. They have chosen a very good plan, something like a pretty lodge. There is a very nice sitting-room, with a bow window and such a view, all over the harbour at the prettiest part; and one bedroom with another bow, a small kitchen at the back, and a large porch which makes a sort of hall, and a loft overhead, and that is all the house. They seem nice people, with all sorts of books about, and some pictures, and great regard to taste and neatness throughout; all the woodwork is very nicely done in white pine, and dark red ditto, which is a very handsome wood and takes a very good polish.
The sitting-room has a beautiful shiny parquet which they explained they took care to keep well oiled and rubbed, to make the dirt (from visitors with feet in the state ours were) rub off without scrubbing, which they did not like; and having no servant, they take alternate weeks to be cook and housemaid themselves. They have not tried either agriculture,
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or even keeping a cow, as they find plenty to do, as yet, and the garden is a picture of neatness and quite refreshing and English looking; there was not one so well kept up in the town. The house stands on a point of the cliff and looks up a most lovely valley at the back of something like Dolwyddelan at Pont-y-Lledr only a great deal more wood and no rivers. We then went on to a cottage where Mr. Robison has engaged a room till his house is up, and my husband shot a pigeon, one of those beautiful wild ones, which we instantly cooked and ate, with potatoes and cabbages, which are both superexcellent here. The owner of the cottage came out from Dalkeith eighteen months ago, with a wife and two children, and landed with 30s. 6d. in his pocket. He has now this comfortable cottage, a garden with plenty of potatoes in, and has more than £100 owing to him, for work done in the colony.
Our Captain has actually bought three sections of land here, one of which has a good house on it, and he means after this voyage to give up his present life and come out and settle with his wife and six children. He has been married eighteen years and only four at home, and is getting very sick of it, and I must say the place is pretty enough to tempt anyone; besides, he sees there an opening for something in his own line, as he means to set up his son, now on board as an apprentice, and his two best sailors, whom he brought up from little boys, in some small craft, to ply up and down the harbours, etc. It ought to pay, as when we were coming back to the ship from Dunedin we must have paid 35s. for a boat if he had not taken us in his gig! Five of the sailors, a very 'bad lot', ran away there one night; so Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Bulkeley are now acting as volunteers, and keep watches, etc. Mr. Nicholson is the best, and takes his turn regularly at the wheel, and Mr. Bulkeley is such a tremendous sailor that he even breakfasts in the forecastle, and is much dirtier than ever. I find he is nephew to Captain Bulkeley who stays at Wynnstay, and his father and uncle have each given him land near New Plymouth. He has about 2,000 acres, and so he
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exchanged into a New Zealand regiment with perhaps some idea of settling, if all things suit. He knows the Tommy Williams' and has met his cousin Amelia Wood (pray give her my love when you can) and it is not till you have been four months from home, without a line, that you know how refreshing it is to meet anyone with whom you can even talk over a few names that you know!
Port Chalmers is certainly a beautiful place, but I cannot admire its inhabitants; they are a very drunken set. We sailed out on the 8th, having been anchored a fortnight all but a day, and had a most lovely day for our start. What we had heard on shore there had made my husband determine to stop at Port Cooper to see Captain Thomas, the surveyor, although we had settled to go on to Wellington. 7 It was only 150 miles of coasting, but the little wind we then had was against us. We had had a great blow for the four last days at Otago. Wind and sea seemed both quite tired and asleep, and it took us three days of the smoothest sailing we have had throughout the voyage to get outside Port Cooper, and there we were obliged to anchor on the evening of the 11th. The sun would set, and the Captain dared not sail without a pilot, which is a luxury we do not yet boast at Port Cooper, and indeed do not need, it is so rare to go in the dark into such a very new place. We were all up at sunrise and on deck, another lovely morning, and went in most successfully, between Godley and Adderley
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Heads, as they call the two hills at the mouth of the harbour. We sailed up six or seven miles and anchored, and then saw a little boat come off round a point of the rocks, with Captain Thomas, and with him we went on shore.
Lyttelton (the town, such as it is) lies quite in a little basin out of the harbour, and has risen into being, I should think, quicker than any town ever did; it looks almost as large as Dunedin, and has a far better jetty, etc. The country is quite different from Otago and not so pretty, I think, but I can imagine that some people would prefer it. There are much higher hills and hardly any woods, only up between the hills run little patches. It is more like Llanberis, only still nothing as fine as Snowdon. But there are high hills, very rugged and rocky, with smooth green banks running down into the cliffs over the sea. If there were as much wood as at Otago it would be quite beautiful, and so would the town, already, for the buildings, so far, are very good looking for this country. They are still of weatherboard, but not quite so much like little packing cases as the Otago buildings. There are several long-looking cottages together which are 'Emigration Barracks'; that is, houses ready for the emigrants to get into on first landing, while they make their selection of land and raise a house. Hotels or lodgings would be ruinous, of course.
The only fear with these is, I think, that they will be too comfortable, and tempt the emigrants to remain in them longer than is necessary. They have all deep verandahs and lattice windows, and give you at once the idea of a hot climate, which indeed we found it for the two days we were there. Close to the barracks stands our house, built in the same style as the barracks, only with two storeys, and to our great surprise we found it nearly finished, and the best looking house we have seen yet in New Zealand; six rooms and a kind of pantry. But the most magnificent feature of the place is the road, which is being made through the line of hills down into the great plains behind, which are about 40 miles in breadth, reaching quite
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up to the snowy mountains. It is very like our Holyhead Road, and quite as good, wherever it is finished. It begins where you leave the jetty, and runs up into, and across, the town, and there is a deep cutting something like Edern hill (only the road more level) which comes down by our gate. This road is of course a heavy expense, but nothing could be done in the way of colonizing until it is finished, as every agriculturist must go to the plains; there is literally no level land near the port, and till this road is finished there is no way of getting there for anyone but a good strong man, and he should carry nothing but his walking stick. It is true that my husband and Captain Thomas did ride to see the plains by a pathway over the hills; but it seems to have been quite a perilous proceeding, the horses had to be led with great care, and even then could not keep their feet. My husband's fell, and very nearly upon him. This ride occupied the day, as they went on to the famous Mr. Dean's farm, and brought us back a basket of the most excellent apples I ever tasted.
Captain Thomas has an office, with two rooms for himself, built at the foot of what is meant for our garden, and there Arthur and I had dinner; some excellent meat baked in a camp oven, which is the usual mode of cooking here; cabbages, which we have learnt to think capital things, or else they really are finer in this country, and potatoes, with which that is certainly the case. They are as large as my two hands, and as good as the best I ever tasted at home. We have them for breakfast, dinner and luncheon. We had Port Cooper cheese, too, though there is none yet made at Dunedin.
I was quite determined to see the plains if possible, but of course Arthur could not attempt to get up the hill; so I persuaded one of our passengers, who had been up once on his own account, that he would like to go up again on mine, and we found a very good, though steep, path to the top. The view was really very fine, on one side the harbour, as smooth as a lake and quite encircled with high hills, and down below, on the other, the vast plains, as level as the water, and nearly as innocent of anything like
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cultivation or habitation, and reaching away to a very fine range of snowy mountains, which, though the day was very fine, was half hidden in mist. A river runs through them, close to which is the site for the town of Christ Church, 8 and near it are about 150 acres of wood. Indeed, I hear there are many patches of wood on the plains, but on the whole there is a scarcity of it, and it is the only thing wanting to the beauty of the country. It was the beautiful foliage, and new trees with parrots, etc. singing in them, which reminded you, and pleasantly too, of your being in a new country at Otago. But Port Cooper must really have a warmer climate and is nearly three degrees nearer to the sun.
The days too that we were there were very hot and the Maori natives (Moury's it is called) had brought up melons from their village, grown like potatoes, which they sold us for sixpence apiece. They have a few huts on the spot which hold a great number of inhabitants, as they stow themselves away inside, literally as you would pack a box. Some of them, and especially the women, are frightful, but they look very picturesque, sitting about the place with a bright scarlet blanket and a deep black border spread all over them. This is the favourite dress, but costs here about a pound more than a week's wages, for a Maori. Their faces are a fine rich brown with a mop of hair on the top, black, and generally shiny as oil can make it. The near view however is not so well, especially with the blanket off. There is nothing but a unique garment of calico, always couleur Isabelle, which covers them, however, entirely, and their figures are most awkward. They really seem as if their only natural position was squatting, for nothing else
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describes it, with their chin on their knees and a pipe in their mouths, and they are horribly tattooed even on their lips. If anything obliges them to move, they slide along more like monkeys than anything human, and are down again directly. The men are generally better looking, and better dressed too, generally trowsers and shirts, etc.; there seem to be very few who still wear the blanket to go about in. I was among their huts in the evening, with Mr. Wakefield for my interpreter, bargaining for some melons which I thought would be acceptable presents on board, when a great tall man came home from his work, in a straw hat, and blanket tied round his waist; which he immediately proceeded to take off, leaving only a very small garment behind. I began to think of the Plume of Feathers, and was near taking to my heels; but the next moment saw him down with the others, rolled like a ball in his blanket, by the fire in front of the huts, and his mouth full of hot potatoes; the women crawling about and screaming out their uncouth words. It was getting dark, and with the firelight glimmering on the whole scene, it would have made a good picture. To me it was like a dream, indeed I often feel inclined to say, like the old woman in the story, 'if I be I, as I suppose I be'.
We got on board again soon after dark, in the Company's boat, a whaler voted too small for the business, but she had been the death of nine. The whaling boats are supposed to be very good models; they have five, seven, nine or eleven oars, as the case may be, always peaked and high at both ends, and steered by a man standing with an oar eighteen feet long. We had a second day at Port Cooper, as the wind was contrary next morning, though there was very little of it. Captain Thomas took us down the harbour, to a village where most of his Maori workmen live. There are 120 at work at the road, brought from the Northern Islands, for there are very few belonging to the district and those not civilised enough to work. We landed, and climbed by a very steep path up to where they were at work, just where the highest pitch of the road goes
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over the hill, and we walked a little down the other side. The rock that is cut out on the top makes when broken up most excellent stuff to stone the road, and that is here a great matter as it can then be carted down to both sides. It is as precipitous as Dinas Hill and one place we instantly christened 'Chance's leap'. 9 It is four miles, by. the road, into the plains, and ten and a half to the site for the town, and all very good line.
The evening we spent on shore at Lyttelton, and shopping, or, as they call it here, I grieve to say, Yankee fashion, going to the store. Cheese, new and soapy, 14d. a pound; mould tallow candles 10d. a pound; the 2lb loaf 6d. meat about 6d. or less; milk 4d. a quart; salt butter 1s. a pound, fresh not to be had unless by chance, and so on.
We were all on board again at night, and expecting to sail every minute, but we didn't get a 'slant of wind', as the Captain called it, till late on Sunday morning, April 14th, and then it left us very soon after we got out of the harbour. We were first becalmed, and then came a gale almost as bad as any we have had, and many in the ship were sick again; Powles for one, and Arthur nearly, for an hour or two, when the motion began. I was very uncomfortable several times inwardly (but nothing more) and outwardly we all were, for the ship rolled worse than ever, and in spite of all the Captain's experience and precautions, circumvented him with the soup, and had it all over the table one day at dinner. In short we had a very uncomfortable bout of contrary weather, the details of which I spare you, when twenty hours might have brought us in; and on Sunday morning, the 21st, behold us again in a calm, and all quiet, (the day so warm that I was on deck for an hour without bonnet or shawl); and Wellington, or at least the heads of the harbour, within twenty miles of us, if we can but get there. My husband is sick to death of the ship, and I of course quite fond of it (as an individual ship) for old acquaintance sake. That is always the difference between us. At last
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up came a little breeze just as service was over, and the wrong way! However it improved a little and by after dinner we had beaten up so near that the pilot boat was visible coming off to us.
The coast is very fine and it was very pretty to see the ship gaining on each tack; all hands at work to get in before dark, and the volunteers and amateurs working for the bare life and looking as proud as if it was all them when the Captain praised the handling of the ship. We had to beat up all the way, going about every quarter of an hour sometimes, with a beautiful moonlight night, and about six hours after the pilot came on board, and we anchored just before Monday morning, 22nd, when I am now writing close in shore at Wellington, in another beautiful-looking harbour.
We are quite shut in from the sea, with lower hills than we have yet had, and more broken; the town is very extensive looking, and all built along the beach, and we have been all out of our senses with the excitement of the soldiers marching along in full sight, band playing, etc. We hear there is a promenade with the band performing every Wednesday and we have already been promised the bespeak of any tunes we like by Mr. Bulkeley. Mr. Fox the Company's agent in New Zealand has called upon us; he seems a very nice person, very like the Liddells, and is an old school and college friend of John Burdon's, whom he has just been abusing for not writing to him, and we are now to go on shore as soon as Arthur has had his dinner; a fish which he saw caught over the stern of the ship; they abound in all these harbours, but are not very good.
I am so very sorry that you will not see Arthur now at his nicest time. I am sure he would amuse you so much in his sailor's dress, and half nautical expressions for everything. He is grown so much better looking, too, his eyes so much darker and his face so round and fresh and rosy, with a hole in his cheek just like Frances, and so very funny and manly in all his expressions. The Captain is
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very fond of children, and has taken a great fancy to him. Arthur would not have anything to say to him at first--he speaks so loud and roughly--but now they are very great friends, and I think we shall have quite a sad parting when the ship goes on. Indeed, most of the sailors now are friends with him too, and when we come on board again after our expeditions on shore he is generally received with 'well Arthur' (as they call him) all round. He would be very much spoilt if he cared about being noticed, but luckily, so far, he shows no signs of the smallest gratification at anything of the kind; only, as we go along on shore, if he sees many people laughing at him in his little man's dress, or if the Maoris run around him pointing, as they are very fond of doing, talking and laughing (especially the women) he runs his face into my gown; and if they are very horribly tattooed he begs to be carried. I am very anxious he should not be afraid of them, and have taken great care that he should get no fright; he doesn't mind them very much, and I hope this breaking in to new and extraordinary things will be of use to him, as he is naturally very nervous, about anything new.
He is getting much better again now, but while he was so ill at first he got sadly out of order, and thoroughly cross and self-willed; he was so bad (ill and weak, etc.) that Powles couldn't bear to refuse him anything, and besides, every cry and indeed every 'I won't' or 'I will' was perfectly audible (and proportionally disagreeable) in the cuddy where everyone sits. Even our stern cabin is only a few yards from the cuddy table and the doors are in fact half Venetian blinds, so that you must speak low or everyone can hear everything. Indeed, I think this state of transparency or rather audibility is one of the great nuisances of the voyage, next perhaps (no worse I think) to the want of fire in cold weather. But let the miseries, such as they were (and at first it was bad enough) of the voyage be forgotten; for we have actually taken a house, and were to have been on shore and in it to-night, if a gale had not come on so strong that boats cannot put off, or anything stir from the ship till it is over.
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William, and the first half of our baggage, went off yesterday. He is improving again now too, or else his appearance would have amused you, for sometime past. About the time that we came near the Cape, when the ship rolled always, he relaxed his efforts in shaving, but only partially, and used to go about with a beard very grey round his chin, and a black moustache; and this, with extremely dirty clothes, looked ill, as you may believe.
April 28th. And in our own hired house at Wellington! Sunday too, and we have been to church for the first time since Antonie! To be sure the service was not very full, as both the Litany and Communion Service were omitted, and as we have another gale to-day the weatherboard sides of the Church were creaking so as to make hearing very uncertain, and swaying about so visibly that it was difficult to imagine ourselves safe. I suppose there never was so windy a place as this; it is acknowledged to be the great drawback to the settlement, and in the town you get it all. This is the third gale we have had since we came, not yet a week, and if the house were not so well used to it I am sure it must come down; as it is, every board shakes, and between every board comes up a miniature hurricane; but then a house is a house, after 140 days of ship, and what can people want beyond a fire to sit by! We are very lucky, too, in the place we have found, empty and taken by the week, of course unfurnished. There are four rooms and a kitchen, and outside a little stable, and a harness room which holds boxes, etc. The house was brought out by Mr. Petre (Lord Petre's son) ten years ago, from England; but he has since been home to get married to a very pretty wife, and now is settled out in the country, and the present possessors wish to let it, having lately failed. The garden is really very pretty, only a little out of order; with sweet briar, honeysuckle, clove pinks, and white moss roses, and other real English plants, scarcely yet out of flower, and overrun with fuchsias, which make hedges, almost. There is some kitchen garden too, so that we have been eating our own cabbages, horse radish, and lettuce, and there are lots
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of watercresses in a stream close by. What is a great matter here is, that the whole place is well fenced in, and we have a good plot of English grass in front. We are on a hill, too, so that we cannot see the town unless we go and look over the fence at the bottom of our garden, and the view, last though not least, is really lovely on a fine day. The church is only about a hundred yards off, and by it stands the Government house, with its flag-staff, where all the new arrivals in shipping are signalized as soon as they come within the heads of the harbour, which cannot be seen from the town; we appear to be on the shore of a perfect lake, completely shut in.
I must own that the town surpassed my expectations in every way. It is really uncommonly pretty, and with very good comfortable houses, although certainly no fine buildings, but they are generally built with a gable on to the street, which looks very picturesque, and there is an almost continuous row along the beach for about two miles, something like the bit of Hastings which joins the old on to the new town, with a patch at each end of level ground; one is getting very full of houses with barracks, a new church, a meeting house, etc.; and the other, which is at the west end, where we live, is used for cricket, flying kites, soldiers exercising, etc., and has very few houses on it as yet. All the better houses are built like the ones on the hill, just behind the others. Mr. Fox has a very comfortable one, in which we have dined twice, and we like him very much, but he is going on to Nelson, by the Lady Nugent, for one of his visits, and will be away nearly a month.
The Lieut.-Governor who lives here is very unpopular and the great gossip of the place now is about his marriage. A young lady, Miss Ormond, came out to be married to him in the last ship, and stopped at New Plymouth with Lady Grey; when Mr. Eyre immediately rushed, in the Government brig, with Chaplain, licence, etc., all complete, and then the lady would not have him! However a later report says the Bishop has persuaded her into it, and that they are now married. He is daily expected to return, and
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PART OF THE TOWN OF WELLINGTON
By courtesy A. H. Johnstone, Esq.
This view shows the town as Mrs. Godley saw it on her final brief visit in January 1853. Water-colour by W. Leigh, 3 May 1853.
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great as you may believe is the curiosity to know, how?
There are lots of ladies walking about the town; we are to dine out again to-morrow, and my husband next day is to be Mr. Bulkeley's guest at the Mess; so it is all very gay, and there are really shops for everything (jewellery, white kid gloves, etc.) excepting ready made furniture, which we are rather in want of. Luckily, the furniture of our cabins gives us each a bed; and we have three arm-chairs, but not a table in the house, except Arthur's little one, which does duty also as a seat, in both rooms. However, we fancy that the house already looks quite comfortable. The little bit of drugget out of the cabin is down for a rug in our one sitting-room; fire irons we brought, fender we have none, curtains and shutters ditto, the table is a flour barrel with a lid of a packing case on the top; and with a table cover on, who but Jones Parry, or Mr. Gooch, would be any the wiser. I have a dressing table de meme and my husband, the case itself, so that, with a bit of calico round, it makes a cupboard too. We brought our kitchen furniture, crockery, and plate for our immediate necessities, and we are very sorry we did not bring more; everything like furniture is so dear and bad, and tables, chairs, etc., not to be had ready made. We have just got a carpet, Kidderminster and frightful, at 4s. a yard; but it looks much better to us for its comparison with boards and a dirty drugget. It will be my job to sew it together, for Powles is pretty busy, as you may believe, with all the unpacking, cooking, etc. We have engaged a girl not sixteen, who is to come in to-morrow and do all the dirtiest work, at 5s. a week, and we are very lucky to get her. William is to have £35 a year which we find is what the Lieut.-Governor pays his footman. I cannot help being rather afraid about him, and I know Powles is, but so far nothing wrong has appeared. He was once very ill for two days about six weeks ago but not his old complaint; some internal disease.
April 30th. Wellington is really a vortex of dissipation; fancy our being overrun with morning visitors, when we take it in turns to sit down. Mr. Tollemache paid
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us a long visit this morning. He is a great man here from owning so much (£18,000 worth of) land; about half of it is here, and half at Nelson, and a great deal of it is now very valuable. He is brother to Ld. Dysart, and lives at Ham House, a very fine old house or rather palace, near Richmond. We like him very much, on the whole, but I wish I had a shilling for each of the absurd questions he has asked since we started, cela ne finit pas.
I am writing while my husband is gone to dine at the Mess, more than a mile to walk, in a hurricane with rain. There is no possible conveyance here for anyone, only Mrs. Gold, the Colonel's pretty young wife, has a sedan chair. I wish you had seen us going out to dine last night with Mr. St. Hill, the Resident Magistrate. The day had been showery, and a pour down of some hours in the night had filled every hole and rut in the road with mud. We had settled that we should not come if it was very bad, but we were most anxious to meet Archdeacon Hadfield, who has been here as a Missionary for 12 years and, as it was fine at six-fifteen, off we set. It was pitch dark, so that you could not see your hand, and we went slipping and sliding down our first hill, very cheerily, and then we remembered that we did not know our way as, though my husband had been there, it was from another part of the town; so we went down to the beach to ask, and were then sent back again the opposite way. In the meantime it had begun to rain as hard as it could, and we were thinking that I, at least, ought to go home, when we luckily met Mr. Wakefield, also going to dine there. He, of course, knew his way well, and we then groped along to our journey's end through everything. The absurd part of it was that we were not after all very much the worse, and five minutes before the fire prevented our doing any mischief as 'damp strangers', even to Mr. Hadfield. He is one of the most delicate interesting people I ever met, and just like Mrs. Dyke in man's clothes, only a little fatter, and consumptive-looking, for which tendency he was sent out here twelve years ago. He can talk Maori
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as well as he can English, and I should think knows more of New Zealand than almost anyone else. Mr. St. Hill's establishment is about the same thing as Dr. Lloyd Williams', only you must imagine the house built all on one floor, as they generally are here.
May 2nd. I was allured from my writing last night by the delights of music again, as the pianoforte arrived, and though out of tune, I could not resist playing one thing after another all night. The band sergeant, however, can tune pretty well, and Mr. Bulkeley has undertaken to send him to us.
To shew you what our gaiety is here, I will describe our whole day to you. It was May day, and most lovely as to weather throughout. Powles and Arthur had a run before breakfast to the confectioner, to order a gooseberry tart (the only fruit, except grapes, to be had) for luncheon, as we were expecting the Captain, and Mr. Lee, to luncheon with us. Directly after breakfast my husband went to meet Mr. Fox, etc., on board the Lady Nugent, for an enquiry about the Doctor, who for his great drunkenness on board is to be deprived of his gratuity. Before one, our 'company' arrived, and they immediately went to work, without coats or hats, to open and carry in the pianoforte, which had just been landed in the yard. Then we ate luncheon, salad from our own garden, and Port Cooper cheese; till, being Wednesday, the band began to play at 2 p. m. So we got ready to go and hear it, when in walked Dr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald; they were luckily going too, so after a short visit away we went. It is a very tolerable band, and they play a great number of very pretty things, and altogether reminded me almost too much of home. There we met everyone, walking or sitting about in summer dresses, bonnets with feathers and flowers, etc., and two or three parties of natives, rolled in their blankets and squatted just behind the great drum. At four we walked home, and found cards from the Brigade Major and his wife, and Mr. G. Thomas, Mrs. O. Biddulph's brother; we had hardly sat down when in came Colonel and Mrs. McCleverty
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(he is Commander-in-Chief in this part of the island) and Mrs. Petre, who had ridden in nine miles as usual to hear the band; and before they had gone, arrived Colonel and Mrs. Gold, and a Mr. and Mrs. Raymond and a little girl. My husband made, in his agony, the suggestive exclamation 'What shall we do for chairs?' but the thing was simple enough, and the first party went away. When they had all gone, and we had discussed the terrible necessity of visits in return, it was nearly dark, and in came Mr. St. Hill, and Mr. Hadfield, who was to start this morning fifty miles up the coast to his headquarters, and came to say Goodbye. I have already said how the evening went.
Will you, if you please, let Charles know directly that the pianoforte has arrived all safe, as I find John has written to him by this post to say it was not forthcoming. I mean this letter to go (D. V.) by the Woodstock, which vessel we find just starting for London direct; there is to be another occasion in about ten days by the Cornelia, also going direct, and then I hope to send a letter to Louisa and Frances, already partly written. Fancy our having a watchman here, who has just gone by shouting out 'past ten', just like the old Charlies in London. But I am not sure that altogether the pleasantest thing here is not the total absence of poverty, or anything like it, among the people. They all eat meat, etc., as much, and as often, as we do. Meat to be sure is cheap enough, 5d. a pound for the best joints, butter 14d. and very good, milk 4d. a quart, cream sold by weight the same price as butter, the 2lb loaf 5d., and we get excellent bread; beer bad, and 2s. a gallon. Bottled ale from England, 2s a bottle. Coals from Sydney 45s. a ton, but wood cheaper. But the best thing of all, which we get gratis too, is our climate between the storms. It is perfectly delicious, just warm enough to sit with windows open and every sign of summer, and yet not too hot for walking, etc., and a fire very pleasant at night; we have it all day pour nous dedommager for the many times we have wished for it in vain lately.
I don't think too much can be said for the weather, between the storms, and everybody seems as happy and
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as much pleased with it as we are. You never see anyone who does not look comfortably off. Our baker's wife has indeed a shade of sadness on her face, but then she is troubled with a bad husband (I suppose they are to be found everywhere) who has gone off to try his luck in California, and left her to carry on the business. There are about fifty or sixty, mostly bad characters, who have gone from here on the same errand. It is only about six or seven weeks sail from here, through fine weather, and vessels are constantly going, with cargoes of all sorts, tempted by the high prices.
May 3rd. This morning we have the Government brig anchored close by, and the Lieut.-Governor is visible walking about his garden with his bride and shewing her the beauties. Government House is something like Craig y Don, but the shrubs not so high yet, and there are larger rooms, but all on one storey. I hear the Woodstock's mail will really close to-day so I must stop this endless letter. I don't know how you will ever get through it. I think you must take it in turn to read it out aloud. N. B.--I copied nearly word for word the account of our storm off Stewart Island from my husband's account to his father, that I might get all the nautical parts correct for Papa. Oh, I wonder so much when we shall hear, but it must be six weeks longer before we do. You don't know at all how bad it is, because you will have heard once; and besides we have so many more to be anxious and curious about. I am thinking of you almost all day long, and what you would all of you say to, and think of, things. Will you please let the Illustrated News be sent to us? I quite forgot it before, and it will be a splendid thing for Arthur, as well as bigger children. He has written you a letter and has sent you all kinds of messages. I hope you will not forget him quite, and I am a little sorry I told of his being naughty; he is already so much better, on shore with plenty to do, and it is 'Yes I will, Mamma' and 'Yes if you please' a tout moment. He makes me think of Charlie, with his very absurd remarks on all sorts of things. Nothing is lost upon him, and in short I would give anything for you to see him, and you can't.
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I shall hope for so many particulars, about everything and everybody, and you must please give a great many messages to everyone from me. If you have seen C. Pollen's children please tell me about them, and so on. The Deans called on me to say goodbye, and I never got to them, Mrs. Liddell the same, and Fanny Palmer, but with the Blue Peter up on the Woodstock (for sailing) I cannot go through all. Best love to everyone at home, and at Stokesley, and let everybody who feels very good-natured sit down and write; and what about Heneage, and the Regiment going abroad? Please tell him by the by that there was at Port Chalmers, wheeling barrows on the beach, and in the roughest Colonial dress, blue flannel shirt and white trowsers, a very good looking Mr. Digby, who Mr. Bulkeley told me had been in the 68th as Ensign. Much love to everyone and God bless you, one and all. This evening I shall remember so many things I wanted to say, but now goodbye.
Your always most affectionate,